By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, July 7, US Representative Bradley Byrne has been widely critical of the settlement that Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) and Governor Robert Bentley (R) announced last Thursday. The South Alabama Congressman is now saying that the settlement is only $1.9 (not $2.3 billion) and that the money should not be used by the legislature to support Alabama’s troubled State General Fund.
Congressman Byrne said on Facebook, “Due to confidentiality orders, it has been hard to find many facts on the BP oil spill settlement. That said, it seems that the amount of BP settlement money going to Alabama is not $2.3 billion, as we were originally told. It actually is closer to $1.9 billion, with over half of that going into the State’s General Fund. I do not believe money from a natural disaster on the Gulf Coast should be used to fix a man-made ‘disaster’ in Montgomery.”
Rep. Byrne said previously, “It appears that less than half of the money Alabama received from the BP settlement will actually be going to the Gulf Coast. Even worse, of the money that is coming to our area, a significant portion of it will be under the control of the federal government. The more I learn about this settlement the more it seems like Alabama’s Gulf Coast got a really bad deal.”
Rep. Byrne continued, “Communities on the Gulf Coast are the ones who were directly hit by this tragedy, and it would be a mistake to hand control over the settlement money to the state and federal governments instead of our local coastal communities.”
$1 billion of the money has been promised to the Alabama State General Fund in payments over the next 18 years. That is roughly $55.6 billion though the state and BP have not finalized all the details of exactly how that would work. The state currently has a $198 million shortfall in the 2016 SGF.
According to Gov. Bentley on the environment side, Alabama will receive approximately $1.3 billion over the next 15 years that will be used to facilitate coastal restoration projects in Alabama. Rep. Byrne is now disputing those numbers.
The BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill began on April 20, 2010 when the Deepwater Horizons drilling rig unexpectedly exploded about 100 miles off of Alabama’s coast, killing 11 people and causing oil to flow out of the fissure on the sea floor. An estimated 3.19 million barrels of oil began washing up on beaches killing wildlife, fish, birds, and Alabama tourist dollars.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) and Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Commissioner John McMillan (R) have both urged that the state put the money in a trust fund for future generations.
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District that includes the Alabama Gulf Coast.